Story and photos by Joshua Maloni
What started with a motivational speech at the end of March ended Monday with a giant paper chain wrapped around the Lewiston-Porter Intermediate Education Center parking lot. Students assembled a 534-foot-long chain and shouted, "We are kind!"
For two-and-a-half months, more than 470 children in grades three to five made chain links - one for each act of compassion or decency shared with another. They were working in conjunction with "Rachel's Challenge," an organization formed in memory of Rachel Scott. She was the first person killed at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999. The gunmen in that incident cited bullying as a reason for their actions.
Rachel once said, "I have this theory that if one person can go out of their way to show compassion then it will start a chain reaction of the same." One of the ways in which her message of kindness is spread is through the creation of a good-deed chain.
"We had our fifth graders participate in the actual 'Rachel's Challenge Day,' " IEC Principal Andrew Auer said. "They came to me and said, 'We want to do that.' "
Monday's rally, he said, "shows we are, as a school, one. It doesn't take much for us to be kind."
Auer said he's noticed a difference in the way students treat one another as of late, and that the chain will be on display in the auditorium to remind third-, fourth- and fifth-graders of their good deeds. Moreover, he said a component of "Rachel's Challenge" would be incorporated into next year's school curriculum.
"We made (Rachel's message) a focus of our school," Auer said.
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Learn more about "Rachel's Challenge" at www.rachelschallenge.org.